Chapter 11: Warning, Do Not Touch
After great discussion, however, the party decided to pause for a bit to recover after closing and barring the door to the mausoleum. There was fierce debate coming up to that point as Kerry was concerned that they could be attacked while pausing to rest. Greyson, on the other hand, decided that this was a perfectly defensible position and set up with his rifle at the ready in between the rear wall and the sarcophagus. Frazious and Rughdar seemed to agree with Greyson and the group took a little while to relax and anticipanted the inevitable horde of undead bursting through the door. The horde never came, however, and they proceeded down the dark steps inside the sarcophagus. Before heading down, Rughdar apologized for making Kerry miss his date. On their way down the stairs, the walls around them began to suddenly shake but stopped after a few moments. It seemed to be another earthquake.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, the party found themselves in a dark and cold stone antechamber. Moving further in, there were two doors on different walls. The doors were made of solid stone and seemed like a part of the wall with no visible lock or handle. Next to the doors were empty recesses in the wall which were about eight inches across, six inches tall, and six inches deep. Inspecting the doors further, they were able to see that there were dark stains on the bottom of the recess as well as on the floor, like drops, going right up to the edge of the doors. The doors, however, were pristine with no stains on them whatsoever. Looking closer at the recesses, it looked like there were small scratches on the edges of the recess as if a sharp object had been repeatedly removed and replaced over time. They were able to determine that the stains were dried blood, ancient and not at all fresh, and began working out how it would relate to opening the doors.
Naturally, they checked inside the recesses to see if there were any buttons or other mechanisms that would be used. Figuring the blood must be the key, Greyson made a small cut on his hand and proceeded to rub one of his bullets in the blood. He then tossed the bullet into the recess and waited. Nothing happened. Frazious then, thinking Greyson was on the right track, cut his own palm and cautiously placed his hand inside the recess. The party watched on as he smeared his blood with his hand along the recess. But again, nothing happened. With one last shot, Frazious then pressed the palm he had cut against the stone door and smeared his blood across. After a few moments, the blood was slowly and completely absorbed into the surface of the door. After a few seconds the door slid into the wall, revealing a side passage.
Poking his head around the corner, Greyson was able to see two skeletal knights backed up against a rear wall. Clearly aware but motionless, he lined up his shot and fired. That seemed to be all it took to gain the ire of the undead which began moving to the doorway. However, before they were able to arrive, Harambe and Rughdar had managed to place themselves in the doorway, blocking all entry. While Harambe and Rughdar held the doorway against the knights, Kerry, Greyson, and Frazious fired bullets, arrows, and fire from the antechamber and the group was eventually able to bring them down. Heading into the side hall, the party noticed that it was a longer hallway with a fifteen foot deep square pit. Looking down the hallway, however, Frazious was able to spot a trio of undead mages at the very back and the group engaged. Rex charged forward and leapt into the pit on his way to engage the undead. Fortunately for Rex, his position allowed him to avoid the lightning bolt which one of the mages hurled up the hallway which struck Frazious, Harambe, and Rughdar. Kerry and Greyson began firing at the mages in the hallway and noticed ones of the mages hold it’s hand out to the last of the three, as if to hold it back at the end of the hallway. Rughdar jumped into the pit to join Rex and Rex then climbed out the pit to charge at the mages. One of the mages attempted to strike at him with black beams meant to drain his health but Rex was able to avoid the spell. Greyson soon after cast a spell on his rope and grappling hook to fire it at one of the mages. The mage was able to duck out of the way but the hook stuck into the wall behind the mage, allowing an easy way up to the undead casters. Rughdar then joined Rex and between the two warriors and the rest, the mages were quickly brought down.
As the party made their way to the end of the hallway, they saw two more of the stone doors. One of the doors grabbed their attention, however. Looking at the door, they saw that a massive red “X” had been painted across it. Curious to investigate, Frazious smears blood on the door and, as with before, the blood was absorbed and the door slowly slid open. Entering the chamber, the party saw a sarcophagus in the back, however, sitting on top of the sarcophagus were two boulders. There also appeared to be several tapestries adorning the walls. Sealed away in the tomb, they were still in fairly good condition. Frazious decided to take a look at the tapestries to see if they told some kind of story.
The first tapestry showed a small village burning with black humanoid creatures walking around. At the center of the image was a young man clutching the body of a woman who had a wound on her chest. The man was shown yelling into the sky. The second tapestry depicted the young man attacking the creatures from the first image, wearing a black breastplate that seemed to be formed to his torso. Despite the large number of creatures, the man was shown already having slain many of them. There is another man in the background wearing a black robe. In the third tapestry, the armored man was shown fighting alongside the black robed man. The two were battling all manner of monsters such as a multi-headed reptilian creature, several dragons, a large undead creature using magic, and a floating monster with a central eye and several stalks coming out of its body. The black robed man, apparently a mage , could be seen casting black beams of energy at the monsters. The other man, however, could now be seen wielding a massive black sword. His breastplate had seemingly been modified and now covered his entire body from the neck down. Talons and beams from the monsters were shown glancing harmlessly off his armor. In the fourth tapestry the mage was seen walking among the bodies of monsters with the eye creature from the previous scene following behind him. The armored man was at the center and was shown again on his knees. However, his armor covered his entire body now, including tightly clinging to his whole face. The sword he was wielding was shown broken in two. In the final tapestry, the mage could be seen directing figures clad in red robes using long poles to lift a dessicated corpse with a small black circle on its chest.
Curious to find out what would be hidden in the sarcophagus, Rughdar lifted one of them with his incredible strength and slammed it on the floor. Greyson assisted by casting a spell and turning the boulder into dust. The two then carefully lifted the lid off of the sarcophagus. Prying the sarcophagus open and looking inside they saw the the bottom half of the broken sword depicted in the tapestries. The sword itself was not decorative and featured a long handle a which ended in an extra wide hilt, about twelve inches wide. The blade then began, maybe an inch narrower than the hilt, and ended with a jagged edge after about three feet. It was in a large pile of dust next to a flat, black circular object about the size of a dinner plate. The surface of the object was a flat and carapace-like surface that barely reflected the ambient light. Lifting the sword, Rughdar found it fairly heavy. Despite being broken, though, it would still function as a formidable weapon with practice. Greyson identified the sword as Danneth’s Greatblade. Half of it, at least.
As Greyson reached for the circular black disk, he was quickly able to identify it as Hextor’s Bargain but upon getting close, he was filled with a sudden sense of dread. Suddenly the object jumped up towards Greyson’s hand but he managed to snatch his hand out of danger as the object landed safely back inside the sarcophagus, immobile. Rex, undeterred grabbed at the disc, hoping to gain its power. When his hand was within an inch, the sphere sprung at his arm and wrapped itself around his arm as he felt hundreds of tiny legs grab strongly onto his flesh. No sooner did he feel this than did the object slither along his body, under his armor and clothes, to stop at a point above his chest. Rex struggled to remain conscious and could feel tendrils boring their way into his chest cavity. The pain was immense and he continued to struggle against the parasite as it consumed his heart and flesh as he finally succumbed to the fatal wounds the creature inflicted on him as the party looked on in horror.
Looking over Rex’s body, it seemed to Rughdar that the creature was still feasting on his friend’s body. He then took his handaxe and swung at the creature, digging into Rex and causing the creature to detach and send it back to the sarcophagus. Overcome with the loss of another enlisted man, Greyson said he was leaving and gently lifted Rex’s body and placed it into his bag of holding. The party then headed back outside. Making it outside of the tomb, it seemed that the undead they had defeated were currently dormant and the group made their way back over the wall. At that moment, he felt a ping in his mind – someone had spoken the words to mailbot. As they were headed to find mailbot, who was back at The Gilded Rose, one of the guards flagged Greyson down and said to him, “Hey, I think we might have seen that girl! We heard explosions and banging coming from inside the cemetery a little while after you guys were around and climbed up to peek over the wall. While we were up there, we saw a girl looking over the top but when we headed that way, she ran into the fog and we lost her.” Disappointed, Greyson and the rest of the party made their way to The Gilded Rose.
When they arrived, mailbot was present and moved up to Greyson but there was no one else around. Whoever had activated mailbot had apparently left. Looking over mailbot, though, Greyson was able to find a note tucked away in one of its compartments. Unfolding the note, it read:
“S and I may have an in. Will contact soon. Check with Bernard – Rub the pearl.”
At the bottom of the note was the imprint of a woman’s lips but it was clearly not lipstick. Holding the note closer, it smelled like ale. Folded inside one of the corners was a greenish pearl. Rubbing the pearl, Greyson felt some vibration in the peal. He then heard some sound coming from the object. Holding it up to his ear, he heard a familiar voice. It was Bernard, from The Thirsty Pig in planks. “Mishka?” he asked. Greyson flatly said “no” and as Bernard continued speaking, Greyson let out a sigh and threw the pearl towards the nearby well, overcome with the night’s events. Fortunately, Frazious was able to catch the pearl and continued speaking with Bernard. As Bernard explained, Nina, the girl that the party had saved in the goblin cave, had been killed in her room in The Thirsty Pig. The only possible witness they had was one of the patrons who reported seeing through the window a giant crow carrying a goblin, although Bernard noted that the man was pretty drunk, although not as drunk as usual. Frazious thanked Bernard and the pearl went silent.
Wondering what they could do about Rex, it occurred to the party that while there weren’t any clerics or temples in town, Valsea at the Tiamat camp had mentioned being able to mend wounds. Perhaps there was something she could do? They headed there immediately. Arriving at the camp, Greyson gently emptied Rex’s body from his bag of holding and, upon seeing the large, gaping wound in Rex’s chest, Valsea was shocked and asked what happened to him. Explaining the circumstances and asking if there was anything she could do to help, she seemed to consider for a moment and said that she might be able to seek Tiamat’s favor but would require a large diamond, about the size of a fist, to bring Rex back to life. She added that she could probably preserve the body for a bit while they searched for the object. Wondering if they could find such a thing in town, the party left immediately to visit Erys, the shopkeeper of the Dragon’s Vault. Arriving and asking her about where they could acquire such a diamond she seemed to think that their best bet would be the mining company to the north. They turned around and headed for the building next door.
The stone building in front of them seemed to be in reasonably good condition but the front door was closed up and the windows were shuttered. A sign on the front said “Veinglorious Mining Company”. Inside, they could hear occasional footsteps. Knocking on the door, a woman answered, “Hold on, I’m on my way!” As the door opened, in front of them was a young blonde woman. Her shirt was covered in ink stains and she had a general disheveled look to her, although she seemed outwardly welcoming. She then introduced herself, “I’m Mera, can I help you? We’re closing down, unfortunately. There’s no work to be had.” Greyson asked if they could purchase any diamonds but did not inform her what for. She disappeared behind the curtain at the front of the store, emerging a few moments later with a handful of diamons. “It’s not much,” she said, “but it’s what we’ve got in stock. We’d normally get more but what with the problem at the mine we haven’t had much come in recently.”
Kerry, then asked her what was going on with the mine and she replied:
“Well, nobody’s heard anything from the mine in over a month. The whole area has just gone silent. I sent my assistant, Percy, to investigate but after a few days of nothing I got concerned and contacted Enryn, assistant to Lord Morgan, to see if he could intervene. Supposedly, the city sent a small group of guards to investigate but they never returned. I don’t have the resources to mount any kind of incursion, myself, though. It’s been a good shot but I think we’re just going to close up and I’ll head back to the mainland.”
Kerry asked if they could help with the mine and she explained that they looked decently well-equipped and said that she’d appreciate any help they could provide. She expressed that she at least wanted to know what happened to Percy and offered a token amount of gold for the party to investigate and invited them to keep whatever they found inside since her company had the rights to the mine. Kerry thanked her and said that they would try to help. Kerry, Rughdar, and Frazious decided that they had time to take care of Rex and could probably check around town for more information. Greyson, however, disgusted and disheartened, headed to the docks to leave the island with the eventual intent of coming back restoring and avenging his friend. Kerry then headed back to The Lazy Moon Tavern to meet with Cosima. She didn’t seem that upset as it wasn’t too late and they had a lovely date. He then headed back with her to The Gilded Rose. Greeting Walter, the owner, Kerry asked for a discount. Walter, slyly winking at Kerry apologized for the inconvenience and said that he was a VIP and would have his room on the house with such a lovely lady. The two then headed upstairs. Rughdar and Frazious arrived shortly after and got a room of their own and wondered what they would do in the morning…